This comment comes from Paul Hsieh of F.I.R.M. (Freedom and individual rights in medicine, http://www.westandfirm.org/blog/)
Life expectancy and infant mortality statistics are notoriously poor measures of the quality of a nation’s health care system. For instance, more Americans are killed in car accidents and homicide than in Canada and Europe. According to ABC News, if one adjusts for these fatal injuries, then U.S. life expectancy is actually higher than in nearly every other industrialized nation.
International comparisons of infant mortality rates are similarly suspect. The U.S. counts any premature infant born with a heartbeat as a live birth even if it survives only a few hours. Many European countries count such children as “stillborn” if they weigh less than 1 pound even if they show a heartbeat. Japan doesn’t count such infants as “live births” unless they survive for more than 24 hours.
Flawed statistics make a poor basis for public policy.
Paul Hsieh, M.D., Sedalia
The writer is co-founder of Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine.